|Cuban refugees wait aboard a boat at the port of Mariel, Cuba in 1980|
The United States thought that it could have normal relations with the Cuban revolutionary government which was also a reason for recognition within the span of a week. In comparison it had taken the United States 17 days to recognize the government of Fulgencio Batista following his March 10, 1952 coup. The United States had not been consulted ahead of time about Batista's coup and this led to the delay in recognition.
How the honeymoon ended
Despite the claims by regime apologists it was not the United States that provoked the souring of relations with Cuba.
- On March 3, 1959 the Castro regime expropriates properties belonging to the International Telephone and Telegraph Company, and took over its affiliate, the Cuban Telephone Company.
- On May 17, 1959 the government expropriated farm lands over 1,000 acres and banned land ownership by foreigners.
- On February 6, 1960 talks begin publicly between the U.S.S.R and Fidel Castro. The Soviet Union agreed to buy five million tons of sugar over five years. They also agreed to support Cuba with oil, grain, and credit.
- On July 6, 1960 the Castro regime passed a nationalization law authorizing nationalization of U.S.-owned property through expropriation. Texaco, Esso, and Shell oil refineries were taken.
Trying to destabilize Latin America
The Castro regime beginning in 1959 sent armed expeditions to Panama, Haiti, Nicaragua, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic to overthrow their governments. The regime's destabilization policy led two thirds of the 21 states of Latin America voting to expel Cuba from the Organization of American States on February 14, 1963. A cache of three tons of weapons was found on a Venezuelan beach in November 1963 that was to be used to disrupt the democratic elections there.
Throughout the 1960s the policy of containment and sanctions were also supported by much of Latin America because the efforts of the Castro regime to violently overthrow their governments led to hemispheric unity for a policy of isolating the dictatorship.
The "low point" in U.S. relations with the Castro regime was during the Kennedy Administration with the assassination of John Kennedy in November of 1963. The Johnson Administration ended active measures to overthrow the Castro regime and pursued a policy of containment.
As already mentioned above the Cuban embargo was first imposed on the Castro regime on January 3, 1961 by President Eisenhower in response to the confiscation of U.S. properties and toughened by President Kennedy a short time later. The logic for economic sanctions was twofold: to punish the dictatorship for seizing U.S. properties and to raise the cost for the Castro regime to engage in subversion in the hemisphere. Unfortunately, the reasons for it still remain today.
Twice called on Soviet Union to launch pre-emptive nuclear strikes on the United States
Fidel Castro on at least two occasions called on the Soviet Union to launch a preemptive nuclear strike on the United States and plunge the world into thermonuclear war. The first time was during the October 1962 Missile Crisis in a letter to Nikita Khrushchev and the second time in the early 1980s were Fidel Castro again pressed the Soviets hard for a nuclear strike against the United States.
Following the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis Ernesto "Che" Guevara denounced the outcome. [UNESCO that claims to work to "prevent violent extremism through education and media literacy" and education for peace is promoting the writings of Ernesto "Che" Guevara ]. Che was disappointed that the 1962 Missile Crisis was resolved peacefully.
"Here is the electrifying example of a people prepared to suffer nuclear immolation so that its ashes may serve as a foundation for new societies. When an agreement was reached by which the atomic missiles were removed, without asking our people, we were not relieved or thankful for the truce; instead we denounced the move with our own voice."The Castro regime's second request for preemptive nuclear war became public knowledge on September 21, 2009 and the newspaper of record The New York Times quoted the source:
Andrian A. Danilevich, a Soviet general staff officer from 1964 to ’90 and director of the staff officers who wrote the Soviet Union’s final reference guide on strategic and nuclear planning is quoted in the early 1980s, saying that Mr. Castro “pressed hard for a tougher Soviet line against the U.S. up to and including possible nuclear strikes.” The general staff, General Danilevich continued, “had to actively disabuse him of this view by spelling out the ecological consequences for Cuba of a Soviet strike against the U.S.”In 1962 when the Russians refused to go along with the Castro regime's call for nuclear war the Cuban dictatorship responded by contracting Nazis. Fidel Castro personally recruited former Nazi SS Waffen members to train Cuban troops in 1962 and that he also reached out to Otto Ernst Remer and Ernst-Wilhelm Springer, in Germany's extreme right to purchase weapons. Bodo Hechelhammer, historical investigations director at the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND)—the German foreign-intelligence agency, in an interview with German newspaper Die Welt said: “Evidently, the Cuban revolutionary army did not fear contagion from personal links to Nazism, so long as it served its their own objectives.”
Migration as a weapon
Cubans were fleeing the Castro regime prior to and following the embargo. However in 1965 the Lyndon Johnson Administration was faced with the Camarioca Boatlift, an migration crisis provoked by the Castro regime. Kelly M. Greenhill in her February 2002 paper, Engineered Migration as a Coercive Instrument, gave an analysis of what the Castro regime did and how the Johnson Administration responded that can be briefly summed up as follows:
All the above took place before the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) even existed. The CAA was brought into existence on November 2, 1966 due to the humanitarian crisis spurred by the communist dictatorship in Cuba when hundreds of thousands of Cubans found themselves in a legal limbo that necessitated the creation of the Cuban Adjustment Act. It also outraged the dictatorship because it meant that Cubans had an avenue to escape their grasp at any time, not just when the Castro brothers wanted to engineer a crisis.In September 1965, Castro announced that any Cuban who had relatives living in the US could leave the island via the port of Camarioca, located on Cuba’s northern shore. Castro also invited exiles to come by sea to pick up family members who had been stranded on the island, following the suspension of commercial flights between the two countries during the Cuban Missile Crisis three years earlier. Two days later he began offering two flights daily from Havana to Miami. ... By unleashing his “demographic bomb,” Castro demonstrated to the US government he could disrupt its immigration policy and the opening of the port at Camarioca carried with it a “lightly-veiled” threat, namely that Havana, not Washington, controlled Florida’s borders. Almost overnight, and with little warning, the Castro regime had presented the US with a major refugee crisis. President Johnson initially responded with contempt to Castro’s move, making a speech before the Statue of Liberty in October 1965, in which he proclaimed that the US would continue to welcome Cubans seeking freedom “with the thought that in another day, they can return to their homeland to find it cleansed of terror and free from fear.” However, after the numbers of those leaving the island began to escalate, Johnson quickly changed tack and began a series of secret negotiations with Castro. The result, announced the following month, was a “Memorandum of Understanding,” a formal agreement that established procedures and means for the movement of Cuban refugees to the US.
|Stokely Carmichael with Che Guevara banner in the background|
Che Guevara, The Tricontinental and the Black Panthers
Guevara did not just advocate armed struggle but the kind of mindset that guarantees war crimes and crimes against humanity. On April 16, 1967 in his Message to the Tricontinental he embraced extreme hatred as a revolutionary instrument: “Blind hate against the enemy creates a forceful impulse that cracks the boundaries of natural human limitations, transforming the soldier in an effective, selective and cold killing machine. A people without hate cannot triumph against the adversary.” He also did not fear the use of nuclear weapons in retaliation to a conventional attack. Just days after the Cuban Missile Crises, when the world came to extremely close to nuclear armageddon, he was quoted in November of 1962 in the London Daily Worker :"If they attack, we shall fight to the end. If the rockets had remained, we would have used them all and directed them against the very heart of the United States, including New York, in our defense against aggression." According to Guevara nuclear holocaust was something that should not deter a revolutionary affirming "that we must proceed along the path of liberation even if this costs millions of atomic victims.”
In his 1967 Message to the Tricontinental the communist revolutionary proclaimed that to "die under the flag of Vietnam, of Venezuela, of Guatemala, of Laos, of Guinea, of Colombia, of Bolivia, of Brazil — to name only a few scenes of today's armed struggle — would be equally glorious and desirable for an American, an Asian, an African, even a European."
Che Guevara's writings were borrowed from Mao Zedong and were all about guerrilla warfare. It is no surprise that in 1967 the American radical Stokely Carmichael in Havana, Cuba was declaring that "[u]rban guerrilla warfare is the only means by which we can win in the United States because they cannot use bombs against us, since we are inside the country. They will have to fight us in hand-to-hand combat and we will defeat them."
Shortly after Che Guevara's death in October 1967 Stokely Carmichael placed the Argentine's death in context and was quoted in Andrew Sinclair's Viva Che!: The Strange Death and Life of Che Guevara: "The death of Che Guevara places a responsibility on all revolutionaries of the World to redouble their decision to fight on to the final defeat of Imperialism. That is why in essence Che Guevara is not dead, his ideas are with us."
Carmichael told an audience in Havana: ''We are moving toward guerrilla warfare in the United States. We are going to develop urban guerrilla warfare and we are going to beat them in this field because there is one thing the imperialists do not have: their men don't want to fight, they don't want to fight what they call guerilla warfare, which is really hand-to-hand combat." The Senate Permanent Investigations Subcommittee on November 1, 1967 made public these statistics on riots since 1965:
The call for guerrilla warfare in the streets of American cities was generating an escalation in violence and costs in lives lost, injuries, and hundreds of millions in material losses in what Mr. Carmichael advocated as revolution. The CIA report "DISSIDENT ACTIVITY: January 1966 through January 1973" approved for release on June 19, 2003 described a dire situation in 1967 that "[a]lthough severe racial rioting had occurred in U.S. cities in previous summers, it never had been as widespread or as intense as it became in 1967. In the two cities hardest hit, Newark (26 dead) and Detroit (43 dead), conditions of near-insurrection developed in ghetto areas, and police and National Guardsmen responded with volleys of automatic weapons fire."
|Black Panther Party leader Stokely Carmichael in Havana|
Castro's intelligence services tortured American POWs in Vietnam
During the Vietnam War, the Cuban government sent advisers to Vietnam who tortured U.S. prisoners of war between 1967 and 1969 in what became known as The Cuban Program in an effort to demonstrate to the Vietnamese how to most effectively break the will of American soldiers.
|Aftermath of 1975 Fraunces Tavern bombing committed by Cuban backed FALN|
The Cuban government has a long history of sponsoring terrorism beginning in the 1960s with the Tricontinental meetings, mentioned above, where terrorism was viewed as a legitimate tactic.There is also an ongoing case of amnesia with regards to the Castro regime's history of terrorism.
The University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies in 2004 published a chronology of Cuban government involvement in terrorism covering between 1959 and 2003. For example, their report lists how in 1970 the Cuban government published the "Mini Manual for Revolutionaries" in the official Latin American Solidarity Organization (LASO) publication Tricontinental, written by Brazilian urban terrorist Carlos Marighella, which gives precise instructions in terror tactics, kidnappings, etc. and translated into numerous languages which were distributed worldwide by the Cuban dictatorship. There is a chapter on terrorism:
Terrorism is an action, usually involving the placement of an explosive or firebomb of great destructive power, which is capable of effecting irreparable loss against the enemy. Terrorism requires that the urban guerrilla should have adequate theoretical and practical knowledge of how to make explosives. The terrorist act, apart from the apparent ease with which it can be carried out, is no different from other guerrilla acts and actions whose success depends on planning and determination. It is an action which the urban guerrilla must execute with the greatest calmness and determination. Although terrorism generally involves an explosion, there are cases in which it may be carried out through executions or the systematic burning of installations, properties, plantations, etc. It is essential to point out the importance of fires and the construction of incendiary devices such as gasoline bombs in the technique of guerrilla terrorism. Another thing is the importance of the material the urban guerrilla can persuade the people to expropriate in the moments of hunger and scarcity brought about by the greed of the big commercial interests. Terrorism is a weapon the revolutionary can never relinquish.Incidentally an online copy of the above mentioned text is displayed on the website of fugitive Assata Shakur who fled to Cuba in 1984 for the murder of a police officer and has been given political asylum by the Cuban government.
Each Administration that has engaged the Cuban dictatorship, offering unilateral concessions, found that it was viewed by the Castros as weakness and found that negative consequences would ensue.
|President Carter visited Cuba in 2002 and met with Castro|
On April 27, 1977 representatives of the Carter Administration and the Castro regime sat down and personally negotiated an international fishery agreement. This was the first time since 1958 that any officials of the United States government sat down with representatives of the Castro regime to formally negotiate an agreement.
President Carter in an interview with Robert Fulghum on December 19, 1996 quoted on page 310 of the book Conversations with Carter said: "When I had only been in office two months in 1977, I opened up all travel for American citizens to go to Cuba and vice versa. And we opened up an entry section, which is just one step short of a full embassy in both Havana and Washington. And those offices, by the way, are still open."
Outcomes of Carter normalization with Castro regime
Robert A. Pastor, of The Carter Center in July 1992 in the report "The Carter Administration and Latin America: A Test of Principle" summed the outcome of the Carter policy on Cuba: "In November 1977 there were 400 Cuban military advisers in Ethiopia; by April 1978 there were 17,000 Cuban troops there serving under a Soviet general.
The Castro regime also played a crucial role in the Sandinista victory in Nicaragua while the Carter Administration imposed sanctions on the Somoza regime when it refused to pursue democratic reforms. According to Robert Pastor: "Somoza pretended the sanctions had no effect on him. He doubled the size of the National Guard and evidently believed he was secure. However, by May 1979, with Cuban President Fidel Castro's help, the three Sandinista factions had united and established a secure and ample arms flow from Cuba through Panama and Costa Rica."
During the Mariel crisis of 1980, when over 125,000 Cubans sought to flee the island, the Cuban dictator sought to save face by selectively releasing approximately 12,000 violent criminals or individuals who were mentally ill into the exodus.
Brian Latell, a former U.S. intelligence analyst and presently an academic at the University of Miami, in a June 8, 2015 oped in The Miami Herald giving an overview of the above book focused on how Castro dealt with the Mariel boatlift during the Carter presidency:
For me, Sánchez’s most appalling indictment of Fidel concerns the chaotic exodus of more than 125,000 Cubans in 1980 from the port of Mariel. Most who fled were members of Cuban exile families living in the United States. They were allowed to board boats brought by relatives and to make the crossing to South Florida.Towards the end of the Carter Administration the discovery of a Soviet ground forces brigade operating on Cuban territory and the ineptness in handling the Mariel boat lift crisis spelled not only the end of the policy but was also a contributing factor to the defeat of President Carter during his 1980 re-election bid.
But many of the boats were forcibly loaded by Cuban authorities with criminals and mentally ill people plucked from institutions on the island. Few of us who have studied Fidel Castro have doubted that it was he who ordered those dangerous Cubans to be exported to the United States. He has persuaded few with his denials of any role in the incident.
Yet Sánchez adds an appalling new twist to the saga. We learn that prison wards and mental institutions were not hurriedly emptied, as was previously believed. Sánchez reveals that Castro insisted on scouring lists of prisoners so that he could decide who would stay and who would be sent to the United States. He ordered interior minister Jose Abrahantes to bring him prisoner records.
Sánchez was seated in an anteroom just outside of Fidel’s office when the minister arrived. The bodyguard listened as Fidel discussed individual convicts with Abrahantes.
“I was present when they brought him the lists of prisoners,” Sánchez writes, “with the name, the reason for the sentence, and the date of release. Fidel read them, and with the stroke of a pen designated which ones could go and which ones would stay. ‘Yes’ was for murderers and dangerous criminals; ‘no’ was for those who had attacked the revolution.” Dissidents remained incarcerated.
A number of the criminal and psychopathic marielitos put on the boats to Florida went on to commit heinous crimes — including mass murder, rape, and arson.
This first attempt at normalizing relations saw a worsening human rights situation in Cuba, a migration crisis and reversals in US interests in the region. These overtures also contributed to weakening the hemispheric consensus to isolate Castroism. This ironically opened the way for the Castro regime not only to overthrow the Somoza regime in Nicaragua installing a Marxist-Leninist regime there but also into a strange alliance with the military junta in Argentina that at the time was "disappearing" 30,000 leftists. Carter had ended a policy of supporting the Somoza regime and had cooled relations with the military regimes in Argentina and Chile.
Reagan's returns to policy of containment rejecting Carter's normalization policy
Carter's policy of détente was rejected by the Reagan administration. Ronald Reagan entered the White House in 1981 and re-imposed the travel ban, toughened economic sanctions, in 1982 placed the Castro regime on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and started Radio Marti to break through the communist monopoly with uncensored information for Cubans on the island. This policy reversed Castroism's gains in Grenada and in Central America.
On March 1, 1982 the Cuban dictatorship was placed on the list of state sponsors of terrorism less than three months after the US State Department confirmed that the Castro regime was using a narcotics ring to funnel both arms and cash to the Colombian M19 terrorist group then battling to overthrow Colombia’s democratic government.
|Castro regime financed robbery that netted $7.1 million. Castro got $2million|
President Reagan appointed Armando Valladares, a former Cuban prisoner of conscience, Ambassador to the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland. Cuba was placed under the spotlight for its human rights violations. The only time in 58 years when the International Committee of the Red Cross was able to visit prisons in Cuba was during this period of time.
Cuba's terrible prison conditions are no secret. In his 1986 memoir "Against All Hope" Armando Valladares cataloged the brutality he experienced first hand as a prisoner of conscience for 22 years. A steady stream of exiles have echoed his claims. But another bit of cruelty is less well understood: For a half century the regime has let political prisoners out of jail only if they sign a paper saying they have been "rehabilitated" or, when the regime is under pressure, if they agree to leave the island.
Furthermore the nonviolent Cuban dissident movement in Cuba emerged and expanded during this time and contributed information on human rights violations before and during the visit of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights in 1988.
The collapse of the Soviet empire between 1989 through the peaceful dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 put the Castro regime into a crisis. However in the midst of this collapse, the remaining communist parties from around the world gathered in Brazil at the Sao Paulo Forum and planned their comeback.
|General Manuel Noriega with the late Fidel Castro|
During General Manuel Noriega's 1992 trial information emerged publicly implicating the Castro regime that Sun Sentinel reported at the time:
"Federal prosecutors say Noriega traveled to Havana to ask [Fidel] Castro to mediate a potentially deadly dispute with top members of Colombia`s Medellin cocaine cartel. They say the cartel chiefs were upset because a major drug lab had been seized in Panama despite payment of millions of dollars in protection money to Noriega. According to the Noriega indictment, Castro negotiated a peace accord between the cartel and Noriega at the 1984 meeting. The allegation forms a cornerstone of the racketeering and drug trafficking charges against Noriega."At the same time convicted cartel leader Carlos Lehder directly implicated Raul Castro and U.S. fugitive Robert Vesco "to route cocaine flights through Cuba." Capitol Hill Cubans blogged how two years later, a federal indictment listed General Raul Castro as part of a conspiracy that smuggled seven and a half tons of cocaine into the United States over a 10-year period but the Clinton administration overruled prosecutors.
WGBH Frontline Documentary: Cuba and Cocaine
In a 1991 Frontline documentary, Cuba and Cocaine, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Commander Jeff Karonis, stated, "We would observe in the middle of the day an air drop going on inside Cuban waters. The scenario would be for a sm-ll twin-engine airplane with maybe 1,000 to 2,000 pounds of cocaine to fly over Cuba, drop the drugs to a predesignated rendezvous point to several boats. Then it would exit back down off Cuba, and many times a Cuban military vessel would be in the immediate vicinity, right on scene with them.''
In 1989, a federal grand jury indicted Robert Vesco for arranging safe passage for drug planes over Cuban airspace after obtaining approval from Cuban authorities. According to the 1989 indictment, Reinaldo Ruiz was allowed to land planes in Cuba to refuel after dropping drug cargo off the Cuban coast. Drug-smuggling motorboats would come from Florida to pick up the cargo, and Cuban Coast Guard radar monitored U.S. Coast Guard cutters to help the smugglers evade them. The indictments demonstrated the foolishness of sharing intelligence on drug operations with Havana.
In 2014 Juan Reinaldo Sanchez who served as a bodyguard to Fidel Castro for 17 years published a book of memoirs "The Double Life of Fidel Castro." He passed away a year after releasing the book. In the book Reinaldo Sanchez described a meeting in 1988 between Fidel Castro and his Minister of the Interior, General José Abrantes in which Castro asked the recording equipment be turned off:
The interview seemed to go on forever . . . one hour went by, then two. And so, as much out of curiosity as to kill the time, I put on the listening headphones and turned Key No. 1 to hear what was being said on the other side of the wall. Their conversation centered on a Cuban lanchero (someone who smuggles drugs by boat) living in the United States, apparently conducting business with the government. And what business! Very simply, a huge drug-trafficking transaction was being carried out at the highest echelons of the state. Abrantes asked for Fidel’s authorization to bring this trafficker temporarily to Cuba as he wanted to have a week’s vacation in his native land, accompanied by his parents, in Santa María del Mar — a beach situated about 12 miles east of Havana where the water is turquoise and the sand as fine as flour. For this trip, explained Abrantes, the lanchero would pay $75,000 — which, at a time of economic recession, wouldn’t go amiss . . . Fidel was all for it.
|President Clinton shook hands with Fidel Castro in 2000 and met Raul Castro in 2015|
Carter's détente policy would reassert itself first during the Clinton Administration beginning in 1994 when President Bill Clinton authorized the U.S. military to have permanent contacts and joint exercises with the Castro regime's military. This did not coincide with an improvement in regime behavior.
The attack on and sinking of the"13 de Marzo" tugboat in the early morning hours of July 13, 1994 is probably one of the worse crimes committed by the Cuban government under the rule of the Castro brothers and it is definitely the best documented and widely recognized by international human rights bodies and is referenced in books on international law.
However, after twenty three years it has been largely forgotten (outside of the Cuban diaspora). The last time a national audience in the United States heard anything about this incident was during Pope John Paul II's visit to Cuba in 1998 when Ted Koppel's Nightline did a story and interviewed survivors and family members. Koppel in his program explained how the mainstream media reacted to the massacre:
"Three and a half years ago, in the summer of 1994, something terrible happened out there, seven or eight miles out at sea, off the northern coast of Cuba. it was an incident that went all but unnoticed in the US media. The Cuban-American community protested but they protest a lot and as I say, we in the mainstream media all but ignored it. The Vatican, however, did not.Three Cuban families seeking a better life away from the dictatorship sought passage aboard the Cuban tugboat the “13 de Marzo.” The captain of the tug was part of the group wanting to leave. The tugboat left Havana on Wednesday, July 13, 1994 according to reported accounts at around 3:00am. No sooner had they left the port they were being pursued by two other tugboats, also of the Maritime Services Enterprise of the Ministry of Transportation.
Seven miles from the Cuban coast line at a location known as "La Poceta" the “13 de Marzo”tugboat was confronted by two other tugboats . Amnesty International in their 1997 investigation reported that the vessels which attacked the “13 de Marzo” were Polargo 2”, “Polargo 3″ and “Polargo 5″ and identified as belonging to the Ministry of Transport. In the IACHR report the attack does not appear improvised:
"Polargo 2," one of the boats belonging to the Cuban state enterprise, blocked the old tug "13 de Marzo" in the front, while the other, "Polargo 5," attacked from behind, splitting the stern. The two other government boats positioned themselves on either side and sprayed everyone on deck with pressurized water, using their hoses.The Amnesty International report mentions another vessel that "appeared to be directing operations was believed to belong to the Cuban Coast Guard, which is part of the Ministry of the Interior.”
Despite the “13 de Marzo” tugboat stopping and passengers attempting to surrender while mothers held up their children begging for mercy the other tugboats continued to ram the tug and use high pressure hoses to blast them overboard. Following this the attackers began to circle the wreckage with the aim of creating a whirlpool effect to ensure that all would drown. Sergio Perodin, one of the survivors who lost his wife and young son during the incident, explained how the massacre stopped in the Nightline program:
"We saw in the distance a boat with a Greek flag that appeared to be what stopped them. lt looked like the boat was watching what they were doing, the murder they were committing. So they stopped and decided to pick us up."It was then and only then that the attack was suspended and the survivors picked up by the Cuban Coast Guard.
On August 5, 1994 Fidel Castro made a speech to the official news media justifying the incident and praising the men on the ships that attacked and sank the "13 de Marzo"tugboat:
"The workers' behavior was exemplary, there's no denying it, because they tried to stop them from stealing the boat. What are we to say to them now, let them steal the boats, their livelihood? The actions of the Coast Guard crews were irreproachable, they saved 25 lives. So, this is what happened and as soon as information became available, more details were given.Within three years of the crime beginning first with the United Nations Human Rights Commission in 1995, followed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 1996 and Amnesty International in 1997 all released reports on what had occurred with the information then available. The most in-depth of the reports was the one prepared by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
The Clinton administration stopped calling Cubans refugees declaring them migrants. The General Accounting Office (GAO) explained this change "for over 30 years, fleeing Cubans had been welcomed to the United States; however, the U.S. government reversed this policy on August 19, 1994, when President Clinton announced that Cuban rafters interdicted at sea would no longer be brought to the United States." Wet foot, dry foot" was a massive set back for Cuban refugees. At the same time a 1995 agreement with the Castro regime empowered them to control who would arrive in the United States by registering Cubans for a lottery and up to 20,000 "immigrants" would be eligible to enter the United States annually.
This normalization effort peaked when Bill Clinton shook hands with Fidel Castro in 2000 and opened cash and carry trade with the dictatorship loosening sanctions. This was done in spite of tightened sanction in 1996 following the Brothers to the Rescue shoot down. This new period of engagement coincided with the rise of Hugo Chavez and reversals of the democratic gains made in Latin America in the 1980s and early 1990s.
|Mug shots of the WASP network|
The WASP network The Cuban government infiltrated a network of spies into the United States that it called the WASP network with the objective of spying on U.S. military installations, spying on Cuban exiles, identifying locations to store weapons and explosives on U.S. territory and planned to first terrorize then assassinate a man they identified as a CIA agent living in Bal Harbour, Florida using a mail bomb. Ten spies were captured and charged back in 1998, but five pled guilty and became witnesses for the prosecution.
The Cuban "WASP" spies arrested in 1998 used coded material on computer disks to communicate with other members of the spy network. From the 1,300 pages taken from those diskettes translated and used during the spy trial the criminal and terrorist nature of the Cuban regime's operation in South Florida emerges. The networks primary objective was "penetrating and obtaining information on the naval station located in that city." Intelligence operatives communicated about "burning down the warehouse" that housed the nonviolent organization Brothers to the Rescue and sabotaging their equipment. The spies also helped to identify who would be flying at certain times.
|Murdered on February 24, 1996 by the Castro regime|
What was broken up in South Florida on September 12, 1998 was a terror spy network with plans to damage property and kill persons with the objective of planting terror. According to newspaper accounts in 2008 the Castro regime had rebuilt its spy network.
Outcomes of Clinton normalization effort
The worsening human rights situation was a contributing factor in the August 1994 rafter crisis in which 35,000 Cubans fled the country. Experts have identified that this was a migration crisis engineered by the Castro regime. The Cuban dictatorship did this because it successfully reasoned that it could coerce the Clinton Administration to the negotiating table to obtain concessions which indeed it did and prolonged the life of the dictatorship President Clinton shook hands with Fidel Castro in 2000 and opened cash and carry trade with the dictatorship loosening economic sanctions. This new period of engagement coincided with the rise of Hugo Chavez and reversals of the democratic gains made in the 1980s and early 1990s.
George W. Bush cools relations without rejecting Clinton normalization advances
During the George W. Bush Administration the cash and carry trade continued as did the joint military exercises.
|Ana Belen Montes spent 16 years spying for Castro at the Pentagon|
Ana Belen Montes worked in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and spied for the Castro dictatorship from 1984 until her arrest in September of 2001 following the 911 attacks. She was arrested without having her handler identified because it was feared the information she would provide to Cuba could be sold to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, when the average well informed person is asked about her nine times out of ten no one has heard of her. The Washington Post published an extensive article on her and highlight the impact she had on U.S. security:
Like Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen before her, Ana Montes blindsided the intelligence community with brazen acts of treason. By day, she was a buttoned-down GS-14 in a Defense Intelligence Agency cubicle. By night, she was on the clock for Fidel Castro, listening to coded messages over shortwave radio, passing encrypted files to handlers in crowded restaurants and slipping undetected into Cuba wearing a wig and clutching a phony passport.
Montes spied for 17 years, patiently, methodically. She passed along so many secrets about her colleagues — and the advanced eavesdropping platforms that American spooks had covertly installed in Cuba — that intelligence experts consider her among the most harmful spies in recent memory.Ana Belen Montes was recruited by , once a legal officer at the Agency for International Development (AID). Rita Velazquez fled to Sweden, a neutral country, where she married a Swedish Foreign Ministry insider. According to spycatcher Chris Simmons who played a role in the capture of Ana Belen Montes she was responsible for at least the deaths of 65 soldiers, including a U.S. green beret Gregory A. Fronius in 1987.
|Victim of Montes's spying Gregory A. Fronius|
The CIA's first defector was Philip Agee who died in Cuba in 2008 at the age of 72. He had defected to Cuba in 1973 and made public the identity of 250 alleged CIA officers and agents. It was the Cubans and not the KGB who had successfully recruited him. Policymakers have a long history of underestimating the Castro brothers.
|Philip Agee spied for Castro at the CIA|
In 2006 the Sandinistas return to power in Nicaragua with the old dictator Daniel Ortega now winning a democratic election with 38% of the vote. Despite all of this, under the Bush Administration, the United States became the fifth leading trade partner with the Castro regime in 2008.
|President Obama shakes hands with General Raul Castro in Havana in 2016|
On April 17, 2009 President Barack Obama said that his Administration sought "a new beginning with Cuba" and stated further that he was “prepared to have my administration engage with the Cuban government on a wide range of issues — from human rights, free speech, and democratic reform to drugs, migration, and economic issues.” Less than eight months later Alan Gross was taken hostage in Cuba. Nevertheless, the Administration continued its policy of unilateral concessions.
Alan Gross was arrested on December 3, 2009. This American citizen spent 25 days in a Havana jail before being visited by a U.S. diplomat. By that time Alan Gross had been approached by a Cuban “attorney” who just happened to be representing five Cuban spies imprisoned in the United States for espionage and conspiracy to commit murder. This Cuban attorney represented Alan Gross before his show trial and later appeals. Alan Gross’s supposed crime was attempting to provide Internet access to the local Jewish community in Cuba. The reality was that he was a hostage of the Castro regime to be used in pressuring concessions. The Obama Administration dangled several offers to Castro and made a unilateral concession:
- Take Cuba off the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
- Waive probation for one of five Cuban agents convicted of espionage in the United States that planned at least one terrorist attack in the United States and provided intelligence that led to the downing of two US civilian planes over international airspace on February 24, 1996 killing four
- Cuba democracy programs would no longer be about promoting democracy but "building civil society."
- The White House and Senator John Kerry pushed to unilaterally cut money for the Cuba democracy programs and freeze their funding.
Mr. Gross was returned to the United States in on December 17, 2014 following the release of the Cuban spies serving long prison sentences in Cuba, including murder conspiracy.
|American Alan Gross missing teeth and emaciated following incarceration in Cuba|
|Panama captured North Korean -flagged ship from Cuba with undeclared military cargo|
Cuba caught trying to smuggle tons of weapons to North Korea in 2013
"A total of 25 standard shipping containers (16 forty-foot and 9 twenty-foot) and 6 trailers were found, for a total of about 240 tons of arms and related materiel." The Cubans provided the North Koreans with surface to air missile systems, two MiG 21 jet fighters, and 15 MiG-21 engines, eight 73 mm rocket propelled projectiles (PG-9/PG-15 anti-tank and OG-9/OG-15 fragmentation projectiles) to be fired with recoil-less rifles, as well as a single PG-7VR round, a high explosive antitank tandem charge to penetrate explosive reactive armor, were also in the shipment.
In addition to the war planes, heavy weapons and projectiles outlined above, the Castro regime provided technology that could aid North Korea's efforts to develop a delivery vehicle for their nuclear weapons. This was confirmed by a March 6, 2014 report by a panel of experts for the United Nations Security Council reported:
6. In addition, various parts for three SA-2 and six SA-3 missiles were in the cargo, such as the nose cones housing proximity fuses, auto-pilots and transponders, transmitter antennas and some actuators (figure 4). 4 __________________ 4 The Panel notes that some of the SA-2 and SA-3 parts could also meet the criteria defined in the list of items, materials, equipment, goods and technology related to ballistic missile programmes (S/2012/947), whose export and import by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are prohibited. See in particular the Category II, Item 9 of S/2012/947 covering “instrumentation, navigation and direction finding”
Colombian government seizes smuggled weapons shipment bound for Cuba in 2015
On March 2, 2015 news broke that the government of Colombia had seized a shipment of ammunition bound for Cuba on a China-flagged ship due to a lack of proper documentation. The BBC reported that "Officials said about 100 tons of gunpowder, almost three million detonators and some 3,000 cannon shells were found on board. The ship's records said it was carrying grain products." Blogging by Boz, founder of Hxagon, a consulting and technology company that provides risk assessments and predictive analysis in emerging markets, reached a reasonable conclusion: "Two big shipments of weapons seized in 20 months means that this is probably a regular occurrence."
Missing U.S. missile taken by Castro regime for 18 months
On January 7, 2016 The Wall Street Journal broke the story that in June 2014 an inert US Hellfire missile sent to Europe for a training exercise was wrongly shipped on to Cuba when it was supposed to be on its way back to the United States. Since 2014 the United States had been privately asking the Cuban dictatorship to return the missile but refused to do so when first discovered.
|Mystery: How did a US Hellfire missile (pictured above) end up in Cuba?|
over a year and a half later in February of 2016. This was happening while the Obama Administration and the Castro regime were in secret negotiations to normalize relations.
On December 17, 2014 the Obama administration freed all five members of the WASP spy network, including Gerardo Hernandez -- who was serving two life sentences, one of them for conspiracy to murder four members of Brothers to the Rescue murdered during the previous attempt at normalizing relations during the Clinton Administration. They de-linked the pursuit of full diplomatic relations from the rise in human rights violations in Cuba and in the region by Cuban state security.
|Spy convicted of murder conspiracy freed by Obama honored by Raul Castro|
The Obama administration doubled down on concessions ignoring the Castro regime's continuing sponsorship of terrorism and smuggling of weapons to North Korea in order to take Cuba off the list of state sponsors of terrorism in May of 2015. President Obama followed through on his pledge made at the State of the Union to work for the lifting of economic sanctions on the dictatorship.
The White House marginalized dissidents and downplayed their importance early on in 2009 refusing to meet with them; the Kerry State Department threatened the daughter of a martyred dissident in order to protect the sensibilities of the Castro regime's foreign minister in 2015. Not to mention claiming that there was no room for dissidents at the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Havana later that same year.
Official visit to Cuba
President Obama went to Cuba with his family in March of 2016, in the midst of a human rights crackdown, and legitimized Raul Castro's regime before an international audience. In October of 2016. Less than a year after a fleeing refugee was shot in the back in the spring of 2015 by a Cuban state security agent. Mr. Obama issued a Presidential Policy Directive ordering U.S. intelligence agencies to share information with the Castro regime's secret police.
Raul Castro on March 21, 2016 in the joint press conference with President Obama said that there were no political prisoners in Cuba, and if any were identified they would be released immediately. A list of current Cuban political prisoners was provided, but they were not freed.
Military cooperation and intelligence sharing with North Korea
In March 2016, the month that President Obama visited Cuba, the Castro regime signed a confidential military cooperation and intelligence-sharing agreement with North Korea reported the Paris based publication Intelligence Online. The Cuban dictatorship, under Raul Castro, has had extensive relations with the Hermit Kingdom.
On May 15, 2016 Henry Ramos Allup, the head of the National Assembly of Venezuela was complaining over social media of the leadership role played by a Cuban general and 60 Cuban officers over the Venezuelan military to maintain Maduro in power and continue exploiting Venezuela's natural resources. Despite this reality Secretary of State John Kerry in August of 2015 said "the United States and Cuba are talking about ways to solve the Venezuelan crisis."
U.S. diplomats suffer mysterious attacks in Havana causing brain damage
American diplomats started being harmed in attacks in November of 2016. On December 7, 2016 the United States and Cuba held their fifth Bilateral Commission meeting where they celebrated progress on U.S.-Cuba relations, and signed 11 non-binding agreements on health, the environment, counter-narcotics, and other areas of cooperation. No word on these attacks. On January 2, 2017 Cuban troops in Havana marched in a parade over which Castro presided chanting that they would repeatedly shoot President Obama in the head so many times that they would make a “hat of lead to the head.” Despite that on January 12, 2017 the Obama Administration provided further concessions to Cuba gutting the Cuban Adjustment Act and ending the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program that had bothered General Castro for years. On January 16, 2017 the Obama State Department issued a statement that "the United States and Cuba [had] signed a bilateral Law Enforcement Memorandum of Understanding to deepen law enforcement cooperation and information sharing." American diplomats were suffering serious harm, including mild traumatic brain injury, permanent hearing loss that included loss of balance, headaches, and brain swelling. Yet, according to The Wall Street Journal no complaint was made until February of 2017 but the attacks on American diplomats continued until August 2017. Cuban officials say they don't know what is going on.
|Cuban troops in military parade chant they'll shoot President Obama in the head|
On January 2, 2017 Raúl Castro presided over a military parade in Havana where marching troops chanted about shooting the American President in the head: “Obama! Obama! with what fervor we’d like to confront your clumsiness, to give you a cleansing with rebels and mortar, and send you a hat of lead to the head.”
In January of 2017, in one of his final acts, President Obama further gutted the Cuban Adjustment Act ushering in the wholesale deportation of Cubans fleeing to the United States. The President also ended the Cuban medical parole program that offered Cuban doctors asylum if they reached a U.S. embassy in the country that they were being exploited as slave labor by the Castro regime.
President Obama on December 17, 2014 claimed to have charted a "new" course on Cuba but in reality it was a very old and discredited policy applied in Cuba of marginalizing democrats and embracing dictators for perceived gain.
Human rights have deteriorated in Cuba with rising levels of violence against nonviolent activists. including machete attacks, and the suspicious deaths of human rights defenders such as Orlando Zapata Tamayo (2010), Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia (2011), Laura Inés Pollán Toledo (2011), Wilman Villar Mendoza (2012), Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas (2012), and Harold Cepero Escalante (2012).
There were 9,940 politically motivated arbitrary detentions over the course of 2016. In 2009, the first year of the Obama Administration, there were just 869 arbitrary detentions documented. During the eight years of the Obama White House there has been an eleven fold increase in politically motivated arbitrary detentions with 2016 being the worse. Religious repression escalated in Cuba in 2016 including the beating of pastors, the confiscation of Churches and some demolished by the dictatorship.
This worsening situation in Cuba is also reflected in an increase in Cubans fleeing the island. In 2008 there were slightly more than 10,000 visaless Cubans entering the United States compared to 46,635 visaless Cubans entering the United States in the first ten months of 2016.
On the economic front the Obama White House repeatedly claimed to have achieved $6 billion in trade with Cuba under the new policy but the actual number according to the U.S. census bureau is $380.5 million dollars in trade in goods with Cuba.
|Trade collapsed with Cuba during the Obama Administration|
The consequences in the region have also been negative. The Castro regime's military and intelligence services have been heavily involved in the attempt to build and impose a totalitarian regime in Venezuela for the past 18 years. Furthermore in Bolivia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Ecuador regimes with links to Havana pursue an anti-democratic agenda. Yoani Sanchez, the Cuban dissident blogger journalist, wrote a May 28, 2017 entry titled "The Kremlin is Back." The Russians returned to Cuba, and made new inroads into Latin America during the Obama years.
How increased U.S. tourism in communist Cuba impacts Cubans
The New York Times has a terrible track record in Cuba and its editorials continues that lamentable tradition trying to make the case for the Trump Administration to continue the failed policies of the Obama Administration on Cuba. However, even a broken clock is right twice a day and The New York Times on December 8, 2016 reported how increased U.S. tourism to Cuba has meant more food shortages for Cubans because food production is geared to tourists. The record indicates that the case for tightening sanctions, and pushing a human rights centered policy will best serve both U.S. national interests and the prospects for a non-violent democratic transition.
Second part of October 26, 2017 lecture sponsored by the Young Conservatives of Texas held in the Escondido Theater of the Student Union Building at Texas Tech University. The talk was entitled 'How Communism Arrived in Cuba.